We need a sense of proportion
The floods have achieved one thing: they’ve whipped up a frenzy about climate change. Some flood victims (for whom we all have enormous sympathy) have been seen with banners calling for “climate action now”. Now Ed Miliband wades in telling us that “Britain is sleep-walking into a climate crisis”.
But if we are, there’s nothing we can do about the climate, and we should focus on flood defences. And drainage and dredging. A pound spent on flood defences is better than thousands spent on wind farms. Here’s why.
No link between climate and weather: Despite the flurry of hysteria led by Julia Swingo of the Met Office, and rashly supported by our Prime Minister, there is no good evidence of any link between climate change and weather. Old-party politicians are too eager to curry favour by climbing onto bandwagons of public concern, without thinking through the evidence. Repeated studies of hurricane activity show no general trend. Massive increases in insurance liability are driven by more property, more insurance and by our unfortunate tendency to build on flood plains — not climate. Indeed the computer models on which climate alarmism is based suggest that any anthropogenic warming would be most marked at the poles. This would reduce differentials between the Equator and the poles, and so might arguably reduce extreme weather events.
Probably no anthropogenic warming anyway: I have written extensively on this so I won’t repeat myself here. No one disputes that the earth has got slightly warmer in the last hundred years. This appears to be entirely consistent with well-understood, long-term natural climate cycles, and is no evidence of human input. Nor is it remotely unusual: we have seen similar rates of change as long as there have been records, and we know that there were natural changes an order of magnitude greater in the past, for example during the Younger Dryas 12,000 years ago. So even if Julia Swingo is right about the temperature/weather link, that is not evidence that the slight warming is man-made.
Our climate mitigation efforts cannot possibly work: While we put up pathetic wind farms and solar panels, there are 1200 new coal-fired power station in the global pipeline. And there will be more. Developing countries are not going to accept permanent poverty in the hope that decades into the future there might be some effect on the climate. Meantime environmental economist Björn Lomborg (who actually buys the Al Gore/IPCC model of climate change) has calculated, using all the IPCC assumptions, that the $110 billion that Germany has spent on solar PV will, by 2100, have delayed the progress of climate change by a mere 37 hours. What will that do for flooded homes in the Somerset Levels, or the Thames Valley? Precisely nothing.
Ed Miliband’s ignorance on these points is alarming. David Cameron’s refusal to acknowledge them is more culpable. We might (perhaps) have expected better from him. Drainage and dredging and dykes and other flood prevention mechanisms can have an immediate effect and can demonstrably deliver savings that greatly exceed costs. Money invested (or wasted) on renewable energy projects like wind and solar is simply wasted, and will do virtually nothing either to reduce atmospheric CO2 or to mitigate climate change. It is money down the drain. And a tiny fraction of that money could have protected the Somerset Levels and the ThamesValley.